- Posted March 22, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protesters occupy Taiwan legislature
Taiwanese students display remarkable restraint and organization during "Sunflower Movement"
Five nights after Taiwanese students seized the Legislative Yuan in protest of a reportedly illegitimate passage of the Cross-strait Services in Trade Pact, protesters continue to sit in and around the Legislative Yuan peacefully.
Mostly college students, the activists strive to keep the protest peaceful as they protest against the ruling party's haste to pass the pact many believe will hurt Taiwan both economically and politically. The students have organized "Civvi Lectures" that allowed all to give pep talks and distributed provisions among the protesters to ward off the chills from the rain; several attempts to disrupt the peace -- including scooters barging into crowds and smashing police motorcycles -- were futile as the students remained true to their initial agreement to stay calm.
The students have asked to meet President Ma Ying-jeou to discuss their demands: Ma is to apologize for the "secret" passage of the pact and withdraw from the controversial agreement. The ultimatum fell flat as of yesterday as Ma made no move to respond.
Many students resent to be labeled as "rioters," an appellation that numerous parents and anti-protesters had come up with for the student activists; presumably out of hope that they would soon give up and return to school.
Now dubbed the "Sunflower Movement," the students have continued to call for Ma to step out and were openly disappointed with Premier Jiang Yi-huah's attempt to negotiate with them yesterday. "We are sincere and wish to talk to you, but if Premier Jiang is unable to promise us to withdraw the pact, we will continue to call for President Ma to talk to us," said Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), student activist leader.
The number of volunteers and protesters had allegedly reached over 40,000 as of last night, yet the atmosphere at the protest sites were amiable, not frenzied. Students chanted for reform while indie bands perform to keep up the morale, volunteers wended their way through the sitting people calling out "Does anyone need a blanket? Water? Bread?" and supported the fatigued demonstrators to first aid tents.
Much attention have been focused on the students' interactions with the police forces dispatched to prevent any sign of violence. "The policemen are innocent, they did not push for the pact to be passed; we feel bad for them too," said a student activist. Students inside the Legislative building were seen leading a policeman with a cold into the meeting chamber for medicine while many whispered encouragements to the rock-still policemen.
"We want to let our parents, our elders and the rest of the world know that we are not irrational demonstrators and are simply protesting for the sake of protesting. We want a fair game from the government," said another student.